Tag Archives: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

2017 F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi — Results & aftermath

Bottas wins last race of season going away, Hamitlon P2; Vettel a distant P3

Mercedes #2 Valtteri Bottas finished out the season in style by winning the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi from the pole. His recently crowned 4-time World Champion teammate Lewis Hamilton came home a comfortable second and never seemed to push his Finnish wingman too hard for the victory, having secured the ultimate individual prize in Mexico some weeks back. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished a distant P3, a fitting end to a fleetingly promising season for the fabled Scuderia from Maranello. Their once robust challenge to Mercedes supremacy all began to fall apart in the second half when a first lap shunt between teammates in Singapore started a death spiral of unreliability that ended any realistic chance of a genuine title run. Vettel’s stablemate Kimi Raikkonen finished P4 after a lackluster campaign, once again begging the question of just why Ferrari have re-signed the aging Iceman for next season when there is so much hot young talent out there.

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen came home a decent P5, flying the flag for the team after Daniel Ricciardo suffered hydraulic failure on Lap 21. It was an unfortunate bookend to the affable Aussie’s season — he also DNF’d in the first race of the year way back in March at his home Grand Prix in Melbourne — and it seeded fourth in the Drivers’ points to Raikkonen. With better reliability Red Bull really would have challenged Ferrari for second overall and they’ll be hoping for just that next season, Further back in the pack Nico Hulkenberg overcame a 5-second time penalty for cutting a corner while passing his old Force India sparring partner Sergio Perez early in the race to take P6 for Renault. The result was doubly excellent for the veteran German in his first year with the squad, as it netted enough points to lift the factory Renault team into 6th in the Constructors’ standings ahead of struggling Toro Rosso. It was a very lucrative last race promotion that also bodes well for the French automotive giant’s chances next year.

Perez, whose incessant complaining about Hulkenberg’s unfair pass guaranteed the penalty from the stewards, could nevertheless not capitalize and finished P7. His Force India teammate Esteban Ocon was right behind in P8, wrapping up another excellent points haul for the little team from Silverstone and proving with that season-long consistency that their fourth place in the Constructors’ was no fluke. Two veterans rounded out the Top 10. Fernando Alonso took P9 for McLaren and will be looking forward to next year not only for a new Renault power unit but also for his double duty in sports cars at The Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona and in the WEC Championship for Toyota. And Felipe Massa finished up his 269th and final F1 race in the points in P10, capping a sterling 15-year career with crowd pleasing burnouts alongside the top two Mercedes as a massive fireworks display exploded around the dazzling Yas Marina circuit. It was a memorable and fittingly celebratory end to the little Brazilian’s outstanding Formula 1 career.

Top 10 finishers of the Abu Dhabi GP:

POS NO DRIVER CAR LAPS TIME/RETIRED PTS
1 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 55 1:34:14.062 25
2 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 55 +3.899s 18
3 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 55 +19.330s 15
4 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 55 +45.386s 12
5 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 55 +46.269s 10
6 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 55 +85.713s 8
7 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 55 +92.062s 6
8 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 55 +98.911s 4
9 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN HONDA 54 +1 lap 2
10 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 54 +1 lap 1

Complete race results available via Formula1.com.

Final 2017 Drivers Standings are here.

Final 2017 Constructors Standings are here.

2017 F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi — Qualifying results

Bottas grabs pole at Yas Marina, Hamilton takes P2 for Mercedes front row lockout; Vettel third fastest for Ferrari

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas made it two poles in a row to close out the season in good form, laying down a record fastest time at the beautiful day-into-night Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. Bottas bested his recently-crowned World Champion teammate Lewis Hamilton by .17 seconds to take the top starting spot for tomorrow’s Grand Prix, the finale of the exciting 2017 F1 campaign. Hamilton tried hard, his Silver Arrow squirming into the final turn at the very edge of adhesion as the checkered flag flew in Q3. But he couldn’t quite overcome his Finnish wingman’s earlier fastest lap and will line up in the #2 spot. Sebastian Vettel put in a typically sterling effort to elevate his Ferrari to P3 on the grid even if his Prancing Horse could never really match the pace of the Mercs at this flat, billiard table smooth and very speedy purpose-built track.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo split the Ferraris and also bested his teammate with a superlative final lap good enough for the 4th fastest time. That relegated Vettel’s teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, to the third row and P5 on the grid and Ricciardo’s stablemate, Max Verstappen, back to P6. Rounding out the Top 10, Nico Hulkenberg qualified P7 for Renault, Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were back-to-back in P8 and P9 respectively and Felipe Massa will start from 10th in what will be his 269th and last Formula 1 race after a distinguished 15-year career.

Top 10 qualifiers for the Abu Dhabi GP:

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:37.356 1:36.822 1:36.231 18
2 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:37.391 1:36.742 1:36.403 19
3 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:37.817 1:37.023 1:36.777 18
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:38.016 1:37.583 1:36.959 16
5 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:37.453 1:37.302 1:36.985 17
6 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:38.021 1:37.777 1:37.328 19
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:38.781 1:38.138 1:38.282 14
8 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:38.601 1:38.359 1:38.374 17
9 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:38.896 1:38.392 1:38.397 17
10 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:38.629 1:38.565 1:38.550 18

Complete qualifying results available via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s race airs live starting at 8:00 AM Eastern here in the States on NBC Sports. It is not only the last contest of the year but also NBC’s final broadcast with next year’s F1 rights going over to ABC/ESPN. So join Steve Matchett, David Hobbs & Leigh Diffy one final time to farewell not only Fomula 1 for the year but also a really excellent broadcast team who helped make F1 racing more approachable and enjoyable for the North American fans. Hope to see you then to see how the season ends!

2016 F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi — Results & aftermath

Rosberg claims 2016 Divers’ Championship despite Hamilton victory & tactics in Abu Dhabi; Vettel a noble P3 for Ferrari

It all came down to the final race of the season to decide who would emerge victorious in the fierce internecine battle between Mercedes’ teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg for the 2016 Formula 1 Driver’s Championship. Going blow for blow over the course of 21 grueling rounds around the globe, Hamilton sought desperately to come from behind, ring up his 3rd consecutive title and once again prove himself top dog at the Mercedes factory team. But despite starting from pole and leading nearly the entirety of the race en route to victory at the tricky Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, and despite slow rolling to try to push Rosberg back into the clutches of other competitors, Rosberg maintained his poise and managed to come home P2 to earn his first-ever World Championship on overall points. Rosberg rode a dynamite start to his year that saw him reel off 6 straight victories and the supreme reliability of his nonpareil Mercedes chassis to join his father Keke as father-and-son F1 Champions. The great Graham and Damon Hill are the only other duo to earn that rare familial distinction. It was a well-earned payoff to Rosberg’s elusive championship dreams and it must have been extremely satisfying coming at the expense of his ultra-competitive and ruthless archrival after being a heartbroken runner-up to Hamilton the two previous years.

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

For Hamilton, the disappointment must have been equally strong. Seeking to join Alain Prost & Sebastian Vettel as members of the 4-time F1 Champions club, the tenacious and talented Englishman did all he could to close out the season with another crown, winning the last four races on the trot. In fact, Hamilton won 10 Grand Prix overall to Rosberg’s 9. But Hamilton also suffered from occasional reliability problems and mystifying poor starts and in the end those few points left on the table doomed him, as Rosberg’s consistency edged him out by a slim 385-380 margin. Hamilton’s final gambit was to cold-bloodedly try to back Rosberg into the clutches of Ferrari’s Vettel and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by running just a bit slowly as the laps wound down, defying explicit team orders to pick up the pace in the process. In that Machiavellian way he hoped to force Rosberg off the podium and seize the title. It didn’t happen as Rosberg had enough pace left in his tires to hold off those other stalwart competitors and come home a hard-fought P2. With that high finish he ascended to the pinnacle of F1 for the first time despite Hamilton’s race win and finally got the better of his more decorated foe in the ultimate season-long contest for the first time as Mercedes teammates.

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In truth it seemed like Vettel was very kind to Rosberg in those closing laps. With the fastest car in the field after a late pit stop gave him the freshest rubber, Vettel made one good run at Rosberg after getting by the flagging Verstappen. When the Ferrari driver failed to pass he seemed content to come home P3 and not ruin his fellow German’s lifelong dream. Nonetheless, it was probably Vettel’s best drive of the year in what was otherwise a pretty dismal campaign for the Scuderia. It certainly was an honorable way to finish up a season where the 4-time World Champ has often been uncharacteristically impetuous and whiney. Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who outscored him more often than not in the second half of the season, was a distant P6.

For Red Bull’s Verstappen it was another spectaular race. The Dutch teenager spun on the opening lap after coming together with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and then had to fight his way through the field yet again, as he did so magnificently in the rain in Brazil two weeks ago. But this time he had all race long to do it and the team gambled by keeping him on the second softest tire on offer this weekend, the red-banded Super Softs, for an extended stint to recover track position. The bet paid off and set Verstappen up on a one-stop strategy that very nearly resulted in a podium even if it eventually fell short. It certainly did give Rosberg some worried moments late in the contest as the Red bull phenom harassed the eventual champion, causing Rosberg to plead for his pit wall to speed up the recalcitrant Hamilton. In the end Verstappen’s rubber went off after a number of hard fought moments and he came home just off the podium in P4. But 2016 will be remembered as this young man’s breakout season and we can look forward to many more special moments to come from this talented wunderkind.

Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo must have wondered why he was not also left out for a one-stop strategy. Running well on his original Super Soft tires, the team somewhat inexplicably called in the Aussie to switch to the more durable Soft compound, the hardest and theoretically slowest on offer, on only Lap 10. This insured that Ricciardo would have to make another stop and also saw him shuffle back out behind Ferrari’s Raikkonen. That loss of track position proved fatal to any of Ricciardo’s further aspirations. In the end he leapfrogged Raikkonen later in the race but came home a disappointing P5. Nico Hulkenberg survived his first lap clout with Verstappen, taking P7, and his Force India teammate Sergio Perez was P8, ensuring that overachieving team’s emarkable and lucrative fourth place finish in the Constructors’ Championship. That came at the expense of Williams whose disappointing year went out with a whimper, with the retiring Felipe Massa managing some points in his final drive with a P9 finish but stablemate Valtteri Bottas forced out early with suspension damage. McLaren’s Fernando Alonso took the last points paying position with P10 but his teammate Jenson Button went out on Lap 13 with a suspension failure. It was a sad end to the 2009 Champion’s final race and an otherwise superlative F1 career.

To 10 finishers at Abu Dhabi:

POS NO DRIVER CAR LAPS TIME/RETIRED PTS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 55 1:38:04.013 25
2 6 Nico Rosberg MERCEDES 55 +0.439s 18
3 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 55 +0.843s 15
4 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 55 +1.685s 12
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 55 +5.315s 10
6 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 55 +18.816s 8
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 55 +50.114s 6
8 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 55 +58.776s 4
9 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 55 +59.436s 2
10 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN HONDA 55 +59.896s 1

Complete race results available via Formula1.com.

Click here for final Drivers’ Standings.

Click here for final Constructors’ Standings.

2016 F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi — Qualifying results

Hamilton sets up final race showdown with blistering lap for pole in Abu Dhabi, points leader Rosberg just behind in P2; Red Bull’s Ricciardo pips the Ferraris to start P3

At the final qualifying session of the 2016 Formula 1 season and with the Drivers’ Championship poised on a knife’s edge, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton gave himself the best opportunity to snatch his third consecutive title and break his teammate’s heart once again. Trailing by a mere 12 points in the Drivers’ standings, the hard-charging Hamilton was faster than all comers at the futuristic Yas Marina circuit, laying down a lightning fast lap of 1:38.755 as Q3 wound down. That was good enough for pole position, his fourth in a row and sixth from his last eight attempts. Hamilton’s Championship-leading Silver Arrows teammate and archrival, Nico Rosberg, couldn’t match the speedy Englishman but still came home only 0.7 seconds in arrears to take P2. As it has been all season long there is little to separate the Mercedes duo and it’s only fitting that they will start side-by-side yet again for the ultimate prize in this last race of the season. For Rosberg, all he has to do is finish on the podium to secure his long dreamed off first career Championship. Even if the German contender finishes P4, he wins on the tie-breaker for 2nd place finishes throughout the year, where Rosberg has a 4-3 advantage. There are other permutations but essentially Hamilton needs the victory and for Rosberg to finish P5 or worse. And with Rosberg’s rather poor record at Abu-Dhabi — he’s only finished on the podium twice in six attempts at Yas Marina — his finally prevailing over his stablemate and chief tormentor is hardly a sure bet. Literally anything can happen in a Grand Prix race so buckle up. Tomorrow’s intra-team showdown and season-defining finale should be a real nail-biter with echoes of the glory days of Prost vs. Senna .

Top 10 qualifiers for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix:

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:39.487 1:39.382 1:38.755 12
2 6 Nico Rosberg MERCEDES 1:40.511 1:39.490 1:39.058 12
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:41.002 1:40.429 1:39.589 17
4 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:40.338 1:39.629 1:39.604 14
5 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:40.341 1:40.034 1:39.661 14
6 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:40.424 1:39.903 1:39.818 13
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:41.000 1:40.709 1:40.501 12
8 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:40.864 1:40.743 1:40.519 12
9 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN HONDA 1:41.616 1:41.044 1:41.106 17
10 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:41.157 1:40.858 1:41.213 15

Complete qualifying results amiable via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s GP will be broadcast live starting at 8:00 AM Eastern on NBC Sports Network here in the States. It’s for all the marbles with two Mercedes drivers desperate for the title and the rest of the field eager to make their own impact in the season’s final race. No real racing fan should miss it so hope to see you then!

2015 F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi — Results & aftermath

Rosberg wins final race of season in Abu Dhabi, finishing 2015 with 3-win streak, Hamilton P2 again; Raikonnen 3rd for resurgent Ferrari

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Pics courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg finished out his 2015 season on a high note on Sunday by winning his third Grand Prix in a row, bettering his conversion rate after also scoring six consecutive poles. Despite losing out on the Drivers’ Championship to his teammate and archival Lewis Hamilton for a second year in succession, Rosberg was able to earn the psychological salve of big time momentum heading into the off-season. Now, whether Hamilton lifted a bit after claiming his third overall World Championship in Austin four races ago is certainly a valid caveat to Rosberg’s new found supremacy. But there can be no arguing that after his unforced error at COTA sealed the title for Hamilton, Rosberg won the races in Mexico, Brazil and now Abu Dhabi in dominating fashion. He even had his rival complaining about his heretofore superlative Silver Arrows chassis, a sure sign that the Englishman was looking for external excuses for his slight drop off in performance. And during the day-into-night race at the gorgeous and opulent Yas Marina circuit, Hamilton could be heard begging his engineers to gamble on tire strategy by running his second set, the more durable prime soft compound, to the very end of the race. But the team vetoed such a risky strategy on the basis of diminishing returns and despite Hamilton pushing hard and getting to within 6.8 seconds during the closing laps, he was no match for Rosberg this day and wound up finishing over 8 seconds adrift. So for Rosberg it was another sweet victory over his nemesis and something truly positive to hang his hat on over the winter break. Of course, once the championship is up for grabs again in the new year it remains to be seen whether Rosberg really has the mettle to deal with a fiercely competitive Hamilton with his wick fully turned up and gunning for his fourth World Championship. If Rosberg wants to be more than a foil, he has simply got to win a title of his own some day. Otherwise, no matter how well he qualifies, how many Monaco GP victories he notches, or how many wins he picks up when the pressure’s off, he’ll never be considered anything but a “B” driver to Hamilton’s ace. In fact, until Rosberg win’s a title of his own it’s not really certain that he’s Hamilton’s true natural rival at all.

VettelAbuDhabi2015

That distinction, as the esteemed Sam Posey pointed out in his pre-race feature for NBCSN, may well go to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Starting their careers at the same time, the same age and with Vettel’s four Drivers’ titles won with Red Bull to Hamilton’s three combined with McLaren and Mercedes, the German showed again on Sunday why he is such a special talent. Starting from way back in 16th on the grid after his team uncharacteristically butchered their Saturday Qualifying, Vettel methodically worked his way through the field, masterfully maximizing the performance from each set of his tires. This enabled him to finish on the super soft options and vaulted him up to a hard won fourth place finish. That was right behind his teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who started P3 on the grid and secured that position at the end in a strong, drama-free performance to cap a very up-and-down year for the veteran Finn. Nonetheless, Kimi is slated to be back again next season as Vettel’s wingman and by finishing P3 & P4 the Prancing Horse showed that their early season form was no fluke and that the car continued to improve to the point of being undeniably the second best chassis in the field. If they can just get some more power out of the engine to compete with Mercedes’ straight-line speed it could well and truly be game on in 2016. If Vettel has the proper tools to work with he should be the one to pose the biggest threat to Hamilton’s recent run of dominance. After all, the German this year is the only driver to win a Grand Prix other than a Mercedes driver with his three victories thwarting their efforts to run the table. With a rapidly improving Prancing Horse, a classic F1 showdown between Vettel & Hamilton could be in the offing for next year.

Further down the order, Force India’s Sergio Perez drove an inspired race to finish fifth, holding off Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo all afternoon long. Continue reading